Physician Assistants (PAs) are health-care professionals who practice as part of a team with a physician. PAs exercise autonomy in decision-making and provide a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic services with physician supervision. The role of the PA includes provision of primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practices located in rural, urban or suburban areas.
The Shenandoah University Physician Assistant (SUPA) Program is a graduate entry-level professional course of study enabling individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees to become PAs. The program is designed to prepare graduates for primary-care practice with emphasis on service to medically underserved populations and the team approach to the delivery of health care. The program integrates graduate-level critical thinking and analysis, problem solving, scientific inquiry, self-directed learning and the effective use of modern technology for professional practice that includes elements of research, leadership, education and continued enhancement of the PA profession.
Looking for more information on the PA profession and applying for admission? Check out a great resource the Physician Assistant Education Association has created for PA school applicants and other prospective PA students – PA Focus. You’ll find a wealth of information about applying to PA programs, paying for school, CASPA, and much more, including a blog which is regularly updated. Another source of information is the Physician Assistant Career Guide.
To be considered for the Physician Assistant program, applicants must:
- Submit all application materials to the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) including official transcripts for all institutions of higher education attended and three recommendations. Early application is strongly advised.
- Read and adhere to the CASPA Professional Code of Conduct available on the CASPA website.
- Submit official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing) scores direct to CASPA. The successful candidate generally has scores above the 50th percentile. SU’s institution code is 0414.
- International students must submit their transcripts for course-to-course equivalency evaluation through the World Education Service (WES). They are also required to demonstrate English language proficiency as outlined in SU’s Graduate Catalog. Read the Admission Guidelines and FAQs documents below for more information.
- Preference will be given to those who demonstrate a commitment to primary care practice in rural or urban medically under-served areas. You may upload a letter to the CASPA application describing prior work or community volunteer experience explaining this rationale.
- Write a graduate student level admissions narrative explaining why you are interested in becoming a PA while offering an in-depth understanding of this role within the health care system. Candidates are also encouraged to explain any aspects of their application that may require clarification (i.e., lower grades or gaps in work experience, etc.).
- Although paid, voluntary, or observational health care experience with a PA is not required, it is highly recommended.
- Applicants must have the following academic requirements to be admitted:
- A bachelor’s degree from an educational institute regionally-accredited by a U.S. Department of Education agency, or as determined by WES.
- A minimum 3.0 overall grade point average (GPA)
- A minimum 3.0 overall science GPA
- A minimum 3.0 SUPA Prerequisite GPA
A candidate with less than a 3.0 but greater than 2.80 overall GPA may be considered if at least 15 semester hours of relevant graduate level coursework has has been earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. See FAQs for the definition of a relevant degree.
The following prerequisite coursework must be completed:
Human Anatomy and Physiology with labs 2 semesters/8 credits General or Introductory Chemistry with lab 1 semester/4 credits Gen. or Intro. Biochemistry (or Organic Chemistry with lab)
1 semester/3 (or 4) credits
Gen. or Intro. Microbiology with lab 1 semester/4 credits Abnormal Psychology 1 semester/3 credits Developmental Psychology (Child/Adolescent/Life Span/Human Dev.) 1 semester/3 credits Mathematics (preferably Statistics) 1 semester/3 credits Medical Terminology 1 semester/1-3 credits
- A minimum C grade must be earned in each course, however, grades of an A or B are considered competitive.
- Science courses must be completed within ten (10) years of application. In some cases, work experience specific to the science course older than 10 years may substitute for repeating the course. You may upload a formal request, resume, and supervisor letter to your CASPA application for this consideration.
- Distance/online education formats are strongly discouraged for prerequisite science courses requiring a lab.
- The Human Anatomy and Physiology (A & P) sequence should be taken thru the same college or university series to ensure continuity and coverage of all body systems. Comparative, vertebrate, animal, functional, or specific discipline A & P courses do not qualify.
- Separate A & P courses containing labs, a comprehensive human focus, and a minimum of 4 semester credit hours are accepted. Completing these courses within the past 5 years is encouraged.
- If organic chemistry is taken instead of biochemistry, the course must include a lab.
- A medical terminology proficiency exam will be administered during summer orientation. Failure to meet the minimum benchmark will require a formal remediation plan to be completed during the first summer semester.
Admitted students must provide evidence of good health and up-to-date immunizations and are required to maintain health and liability insurance coverage. They must also submit to a criminal background check (including sex offenses and crimes against minors) and to drug testing required by the program and clinical practice sites. Non-compliance with these policies may be cause for dismissal from the program. Further details will be provided at the mandatory orientation.
Falsification of any portion of the application process will be cause for immediate rescinding of the admission offer or dismissal from the PA Program.
Characteristics of Students
Admitted in 2020 – Graduate Class of 2022
Number of Applications
Number or Seats
Overall Cumulative GPA
Overall Science GPA
SUPA Prerequisite GPA
Verbal GRE %
Quantitative GRE %
Written GRE %
Hours of Patient Care Experience
Hours of Shadowing Experience
If you have questions or need further information about financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
Through the generosity of alumni, community friends and foundations, the SUPA program is able to provide several scholarships each year. Additional information regarding SU, private, and professional association scholarships, will be provided in fall. Candidates interested in exploring loan repayment opportunities through the National Health Service Corps scholarships should call NHSC at (800) 221-9393 or visit the NHSC Web site.
Full Admission Status
Is offered to admitted candidates with a conferred bachelor’s degree and all prerequisites completed.
The admissions committee, thru collective agreement and a point scoring system, will grant one of the following admission decisions to those interviewed:
- Full Admission: to candidates with a conferred bachelor’s degree and with all prerequisites completed.
- Provisional Admission: to candidates with a bachelor’s degree in progress and/or with outstanding prerequisites.
- Wait list (Alternate): A limited number of candidates will be placed on an alternate list in which rank or position will not be disclosed due to its dynamic nature. Those not notified of an admission status by early June must reapply to be considered in a future cycle.
- Denial: Applicants denied admission will be notified in writing and must reapply to be considered in a subsequent admission cycle.
Provisional Admission Status
Is offered to admitted candidates with outstanding requirements which may include:
- A bachelor’s degree in progress. An official transcript showing the degree conferral must be provided no later than by May 31.
- Incomplete prerequisites. Remaining courses are to be completed by May 15 with official transcript(s) received by May 31.
Technical standards establish the expectations and abilities considered essential to achieve the level of competency required for graduation and practice. All SUPA Program students are expected to be able to continually demonstrate the abilities specified below at matriculation and throughout the educational program.
Physician Assistant Program students:
- must have the mental capacity to assimilate and learn a large amount of complex, technical and detailed information; to solve clinical problems; and to synthesize and apply concepts and information from various disciplines in order to formulate diagnostic and therapeutic plans;
- must have the ability to maintain composure and emotional stability during periods of high stress;
- must have the ability to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients from different social and cultural backgrounds and develop effective professional rapport with patients and co-workers;
- must have the ability to record examination and diagnostic results clearly, accurately and efficiently, in verbal, written and electronic formats;
- must have adequate sensory function to fulfill minimum competency objectives for palpation, percussion and auscultation necessary to perform a physical examination;
- must possess sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control and eye-to-hand coordination to use standard medical/surgical instruments and possess sufficient control of the upper extremities to meet the physical requirements for training and for performing a safe physical examination and procedure;
- are expected to learn and perform common diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (e.g., blood drawing, suturing) and interpret the results;
- are expected to have the degree of coordination of motor skills necessary to respond to emergency situations quickly and appropriately;
- must be able to safely operate a motor vehicle in order to transport oneself to educational experiences off campus.
- are expected to participate in program scheduled learning and assessment activities that may occur between the hours of 6 am and 9 pm.
- are expected to participate in clinical rotations that operate during all times of the day/night.
Upon completion of the SUPA Program, the graduate will be able to:
- Elicit a medical history
- ensures patient comfort
- establishes and maintains ethically sound and therapeutic rapport with patient (and/or family)
- reviews medical record
- recognizes and interprets verbal and non-verbal cues
- includes all relevant components
- adjusts according to reason for visit, patient demographics, etc.
- elicits psychosocial factors which may impact upon patient’s health
- Perform a physical examination
- explains examination procedures
- ensures patient comfort and privacy
- utilizes diagnostic tools appropriately
- assesses general status of patient
- utilizes the skills of inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation
- obtains vital signs
- examines/assesses appropriate systems
- employs special procedures where appropriate
- adjusts according to reason for visit, patient demographics, patient condition etc.
- uses principles of economy of motion, economy of time
- Develop a diagnostic management plan
- differentiates normal from abnormal findings
- orders appropriate diagnostic tests based upon differential diagnosis
- performs diagnostic tests as appropriate
- considers cost, sensitivity, specificity, invasiveness, appropriate sequencing etc.
- repeats or orders additional tests as indicated
- considers referral as option
- orders/performs appropriate screening tests based upon evaluation of risk factors
- makes informed decisions about diagnostic interventions based upon patient information and preferences, as well as up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical judgment
- Analyze data and develop a differential diagnosis
- analyzes subjective and objective findings
- recognizes diagnostic patterns
- recognizes impact of social and behavioral issues
- applies principles of epidemiology and principles of evidence-based medicine
- formulates differential diagnosis
- applies principles of triage; adapts data gathering and intervention according to level of acuity
- Develop a therapeutic management plan (acute and/or chronic care
- applies principles of pharmacotherapeutics
- considers patient’s overall condition including socioeconomic factors
- develops plan with patient (and/or family)
- includes non-pharmacologic modalities as appropriate
- considers referral as option
- ensures implementation
- ensures follow-up
- adjusts plan as needed
- obtains patient’s informed consent as appropriate
- makes informed decisions about therapeutic interventions based upon patient information and preferences as well as up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical judgment
- Provide patient education
- maximizes patient autonomy
- applies principles of adult learning
- instructs patients in health promotion and disease prevention principles
- assists patient/family with utilization of community services
- develops patient education materials
- includes family members as appropriate
- Maintain medical records
- obtains biographical data for patient
- documents history, physical examination, progress notes, orders, etc.
- utilizes proper medical charting principles to accurately document and record information regarding findings and care processes for medical, legal, quality and financial purposes.
- prepares summaries as needed (admission, discharge, surgery etc.)
- uses written, oral, and electronic communication techniques
- obtains physician signature
- maintains confidentiality of record
- Perform medical and surgical techniques
- performs basic and advanced cardiac life support
- provides wound care including suturing and removal of foreign bodies
- obtains specimens (blood, fluid or tissue)
- administers medications by various routes
- assists in surgery (first or second assist)
- performs basic office-based procedures (e.g. removal/cryosurgery of superficial lesions, ear irrigation etc.)
- uses principles of aseptic technique and universal precautions
- Utilize administrative, management and research skills
- complies with local, state and federal laws and regulations
- monitors patient care for quality outcomes and cost effectiveness
- follows guidelines for third-party reimbursement
- critically appraises scientific literature
- utilizes technology including information technology to enhance patient care & patient education
- regularly engages in active scholarship and teaching
- Demonstrate professionalism
- demonstrates clear and effective oral, written, and electronic communication skills
- maintains patient confidentiality
- maintains high moral and ethical standards
- works effectively with physicians and other health care professionals as member or leader of a health care team or other professional group
- demonstrates respect for individual and cultural diversity
- recognizes limitations and seeks physician counsel
- promotes the physician assistant profession and philosophies
- applies humanistic approach to health care (includes respect, compassion and integrity)
- adapts approach to patient care to environment and resources
- demonstrates emotional resilience and stability, adaptability, flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity and anxiety
- Acknowledges the importance of lifelong learning professional education
- maintains certification status
- keeps abreast of current medical/surgical trends and technology
- provides education to the community and/or profession
- keeps abreast of technological advances
- self reflects on practice in order to grow personally and professionally
- Demonstrates leadership skills
- advocates for patients and their families
- displays a service oriented attitude
- demonstrates servant-leadership for profession, community and clinical practice
- participates in education of PA students as mentor, teacher or preceptor
- advocates for and/or participates in care of medically underserved populations
- demonstrates initiative
Choosing SUPA over other PA programs was the easiest decision on my post-bachelor journey to PA school. From the first hours of being on campus for interview day, the sense of community and family support was palpable when talking with both current students and faculty. Coming from a background in music therapy, it was important that the program engaged in inter-professional education. The program not only does that but also creates a cohort with varied life experiences so that we continually teach and learn from one another beyond the classroom medical model.”
Bradley Bailey, PA-S ‘19
Faculty and students were so kind and welcoming. I knew I would not only receive an excellent education, but I would have the support necessary to succeed. Since being an SU student, I continue to be challenged and encouraged reassuring me that I made the right choice. I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a great program.”
Nicole Jones, PA-S ‘18
Shenandoah was my first choice from the very beginning when deciding to become a PA. The prestige of the program, coupled with the warm, positive atmosphere makes Shenandoah an obvious choice. There is a focus on life-long learning, volunteerism, and an inter-professional approach to medicine. I am confident that I will not only be a confident PA, but an overall better person after this experience.”
Amber Beckman, PA-C ’17
I decided on Shenandoah because of its excellence in pass rates, the inviting and friendly atmosphere from the staff and students, and the emphasis they place on outreach and global missions. I believe this university integrates my two passions: medicine and serving others through missions. They provide a comprehensive foundation for primary care and present many volunteer opportunities, preparing me to pursue my skills in any location or setting. Throughout my time at school, I constantly feel welcomed, encouraged, and confident that I chose the best career.”
Joshua Harris, PA-C ’15
I chose SU because of their superior dedication to provide medical service in rural or underserved communities. The facility, atmosphere, and welcoming faculty and students further led to my choice to attend SU. I believe this program can assist in taking my aspirations to serve the less fortunate groups of people to the next level, and I am incredibly happy with my decision.”
Emily Engel, PA-C ’14
SUPA allowed me opportunity to grow both academically and professionally. While studying occupied much of my time, I also participated in the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) nationally. I attended the AAPA national conference two years in a row, and was elected to several positions that showed me the inner workings of our most important professional organization. I was well prepared to join the Air Force when I graduated.”
Ricky Martin, PA-C ’11
Shenandoah University was my only choice for PA school! Approaching my senior year in college, I found myself wondering what would be my next step. Although I had majored in chemistry, I knew I wanted a career in medicine. Shenandoah University offered a friendly group of faculty and staff that encouraged an environment of learning. Despite the tough journey through PA school, it was all worth it. Not only did I attain a degree to practice medicine, but I also experienced the wonders of mission work in Nicaragua. During my second year, I served a vital role on the women’s health team treating patients and mentoring first year students. I currently work at the National Institutes of Health in the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, which requires a broad range of knowledge. I have no doubt in my mind that Shenandoah University has been the best choice in preparing me for my career.”
Candice Moreland, PA-C ’10
I was attracted to Shenandoah’s program because of the personal teaching environment that was very much the opposite of the large lectures I encountered during my undergraduate education. The University’s location provides a small town feel but is still in close proximity to Washington D.C. The Physician Assistant program provides many opportunities for students and having classes at Winchester Medical Center allows interactions with doctors, PAs, and patients at one of the top hospital centers in the country. Through the student society I serve as the House of Delegate’s representative in the AAPA and have the opportunity to represent Shenandoah University at the national conference. I am very happy with my decision to attend the Physician Assistant program at Shenandoah, and am certain that the program will give me all I need and more to succeed as a Physician Assistant.”
Marilyn Radcliffe, PA-C ’09
During my interviews for PA school, I fell in love with Shenandoah University The faculty, staff and students were so kind, caring, and willing to answer any questions that I had. Shenandoah University became my first choice. After being accepted into the program, I quickly learned that Shenandoah University would change my life. With the help of my professors and peers, I was able to gain the knowledge and skills that I needed in order to become a successful PA. I was also able to expand my knowledge even further on a medical mission trip to Leon, Nicaragua. Upon graduation I felt prepared for the working world. I now work in a primary care office in rural southwest Virginia. My patients and colleagues feel comfortable with my clinical knowledge. I would definitely recommend Shenandoah University to anyone looking to become a PA!”
Jaime Few, PA-C ’08
The comfortable setting at my interview, along with the tour of the facility, helped me realize that Shenandoah was the only place I wanted to be. So far, the program has offered me a positive learning environment and a supportive network of peers.”
Kelly Grubb, PA-C ’07
The curriculum at Shenandoah University provided me with all the skills I needed to feel confident entering the work force. I was able to obtain a position in the field of my choice prior to graduation knowing I would be ready for the responsibilities of patient care.”
Rebecca Rosemann, PA-C ’04
The admission information provides both the potential and matriculated student with details about the educational program leading to a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MS-PAS). It should be viewed as an adjunct to Shenandoah University’s Graduate Catalog and the Shenandoah University Physician Assistant (SUPA) Program Student Handbook, which contain specific information regarding the university and related policies. The information herein is subject to periodic revision and these changes will be relayed to candidates and students in a timely manner. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to be aware of all degree requirements and to work closely with an adviser to ensure that these requirements are fulfilled. Your success is very important to us, and we are committed to helping you achieve your goal of becoming a physician assistant. Please send any questions regarding the application and admissions process to email@example.com or call 540-542-6208.
The SUPA Program participates in the web-based Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) service through which, with a single application, one may apply to multiple PA programs nationwide.Documents to help you understand our program and the application process for the 2020-21 admissions cycle:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1) Why should I apply early?
The Shenandoah University PA (SUPA) Program uses a type of rolling admissions which encourages applicants to submit their applications early, allowing for a much greater opportunity to be selected for an interview.
2) Am I too old to apply?
The Shenandoah University PA (SUPA) Program’s admissions policies do not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation. Candidates are urged to review the Technical Standards located on the SUPA program website and consult us to determine if the University can provide reasonable accommodations to meet the Standards for practice.
3) Will you evaluate transcripts or courses before I apply?
Due to the volume of applications received each year, we are unable to offer this service to candidates who are not current CASPA applicants. Please read the entire section on prerequisites in the admissions guide for further guidance. If you are unsure if a particular course will satisfy a prerequisite, you may email a course description and syllabus for review to firstname.lastname@example.org once you have applied to the SUPA Program through CASPA.
4) How do I apply?
The SUPA Program participates in the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) the Customer Service Representatives of which are available M-F, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (ETS) by phone at (617) 612-2080, or you may email CASPA.
5) Does the program require a supplemental application?
No. However, the program requires candidates to answer the custom questions in the CASPA application.
6) When should I have my materials in to CASPA in order to meet Shenandoah deadlines?
We strongly recommend that you submit your completed application by September 1st in order to meet our application verification deadline of October 1st. Otherwise, delays in CASPA processing could jeopardize consideration of your application.
7) What are the typical number of applications and number of seats available?
For the 2019-20 admissions cycle, we averaged nearly 10 applications per seat. In 2020 we admitted 60 students (42 for the Winchester campus and 18 for the Scholar Plaza, Loudoun site).
8) Is my application viewed more favorably if I am a Shenandoah University (SU) student/graduate or complete prerequisites at SU?
a) SU Student –an articulation agreement between SU’s undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and our graduate School of Health Professions (SHP) provides a pathway to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies for any currently full-time enrolled SU student earning a baccalaureate degree from the university. Students will submit a CASPA application, and as long as admissions requirements are met an interview invitation will be granted. If criteria is not met, the student’s application will automatically be entered into the pool of regular applicants. The SUPA Program reserves a set number of seats for current SU students
b) SU Graduate – students who take a gap year, or are otherwise an SU alum are ineligible.
c) Visiting/Non-degree Student –ineligible
Students desiring to enter Shenandoah University as a freshman and who wish to be considered for the SUPA Program should review our Early Assurance program.
1) What are the prerequisites/requirements for entrance?
The entrance requirements include a bachelor’s degree, a minimum 3.0 overall cumulative and science Grade Point Average (GPA), and at least a letter grade of C (A or B is competitive) obtained in each prerequisite course. GPAs are calculated by CASPA, and repeated courses are included in calculations.
The course requirements are detailed on our SUPA Program Web site and include:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology with labs
- Microbiology with lab
- General Chemistry with lab
- Biochemistry without a lab or Organic Chemistry with lab
- Abnormal Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- College Mathematics (statistics preferred)
- Medical Terminology
Science courses must be current within 10 years, and the program strongly encourages the Human Anatomy & Physiology prerequisites to be completed within the past 5 years. Candidates may meet the anatomy and physiology prerequisites by taking a semester course in each topic or by taking the entire sequence of combined anatomy & physiology courses at a single college. The combined courses must cover all of the body systems. Animal physiology, comparative anatomy, vertebrate anatomy, functional anatomy, anatomy and physiology designed for specific disciplines, or fundamentals of anatomy and physiology courses are not counted toward the two-semester requirement. Candidates should not use distance/web-based courses to satisfy science prerequisite courses that require a lab component.
General Psychology cannot be substituted for Abnormal or Developmental Psychology requirements. A medical terminology proficiency exam will be administered during summer orientation. Failure to meet the minimum benchmark will require a formal remediation plan to be completed during the first summer semester.
2) Can I apply before my prerequisites are complete?
Yes. You may apply if you are confident that you will be able to complete all prerequisites, including a bachelor’s degree, no later than May 15 of the enrollment year with official transcripts documenting this completion received by May 31. It’s recommended that candidates have no more than two outstanding prerequisites left to complete at the beginning of spring term prior to enrolling in the SUPA Program.
3) Why must science courses be current within ten years?
The fields of science are rapidly changing on a regular basis as there are many new diseases that have emerged as little as two years ago. Thus, students should have a current science knowledge base providing a solid foundation for clinical science instruction while studying the PA curriculum. If a candidate demonstrates that he/she has worked in a science-related discipline allowing him/her to remain current, then the candidate may petition the program to substitute work experience instead of repeating the course(s). This requires documentation to include a formal request, resume and letter from a work supervisor. The petition must be uploaded to one’s CASPA application. The PA Program does not review petitions until the application is received. 3
4) Do you accept College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits for prerequisite courses?
Yes. Students must submit official copies of test results for review and approval. To review the minimum passing scores and credit eligibility for individual tests, refer to the SU Undergraduate Catalog. We do not accept Advanced Placement (AP) or CLEP exams for science prerequisite courses, however, we will accept passing CLEP exam scores for our math and Developmental Psychology (Human Growth and Development) requirements.
5) Do you accept prerequisite courses completed at community colleges?
Prerequisites may be taken at any college or university (regionally-accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education), which includes community colleges which are not evaluated differently than equivalent four year institution courses.
1) Why does the SUPA Program require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?
Most U.S. graduate level educational programs require the GRE in order to determine if a candidate has the aptitude to be successful in an intensive program of study that requires higher order thinking and problem solving. The GRE scores assist the admissions committee in evaluating the candidate’s academic ability and supplement the information we gain from review of the overall grade point average and transcripts. Admitted student average GRE scores range in the 50th percentile
2) Will the program accept other exams in lieu of the GRE?
No. Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) or other tests cannot be substituted for the GRE. However, the GRE requirement will be waived if a candidate has completed a relevant graduate degree with a minimum, cumulative 3.0 GPA.
1) Where can I find out more information about the Shenandoah University PA Program? Candidates are encouraged to visit our SUPA Program Web site regarding admission details and curriculum. In addition, Information Sessions (Open Houses) are provided at both of our campuses, and a Webinar is held annually to allow those who live outside commuting range similar accessibility to program details. These sessions provide an opportunity to meet faculty and students, tour our facilities, and receive further information regarding the PA Profession in general and the SUPA Program in particular. The dates and registration form are posted on SUPA Information Session Registration Page.
2) Is the SUPA Program accredited?
Yes, the program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Review Committee on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). The next review of the program will be in March 2025.
3) What is the length of the SUPA Program?
The curriculum is 30 months (eight terms) in duration beginning in early July each year. The program includes three summer sessions and graduation is in December. The first five terms are primarily didactic (classroom and laboratory) and the last three terms are the clinical phase. There are opportunities for clinical exposure (primarily observational) during the first year. Clinical rotations total 47 weeks. Additional information regarding the curriculum is found on our Web site.
4) Can I work while attending the PA Program? The program is only offered on a full-time basis. Because of the rigor of the program, students are strongly discouraged from working either part-time or full-time while enrolled.
5) What is the pass rate on the national certification examination?
SUPA’s pass rate for first-time takers over the past five years (2015-19) is 97 percent. The national pass rate for the past five years is 96 percent. The SUPA Program overall pass rate is 100 percent. Additional information is available on the Web site.
6) Do you offer a dual enrollment program?
Yes. Shenandoah University also offers a Master degree in Public Health (MPH) program. Up to 15 credits of MPH coursework overlaps with graduation requirements for the PA & MPH Dual Degree option, thus, saving students both time and money. Additional information is available at PA/MPH Dual Degree. Students may elect to enroll in the Dual Degree option before, during, or after starting the PA program.
1) Where are SUPA Program’s clinical sites? May I complete clinical rotations in my hometown or home state?
Most clinical rotations are located within a ninety mile radius of students’ home campus in Winchester or site in Loudoun County. However, students may be required to complete rotations that are beyond this radius. Students are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses during the clinical year. The program will work with the clinical site to help identify inexpensive local housing when the assignment is beyond commuting distance, but this cannot be guaranteed. Students in good academic standing may apply to complete faculty-approved clinical rotations at distant sites. Students are not expected to find their own clinical placements.
1) If I do not have minimum 3.0 overall cumulative and science GPAs, so is there any point in applying?
An applicant with an overall cumulative or science GPA less than 3.0 but greater than 2.80 and who has completed a minimum of 15 semester hours of relevant graduate work with a 3.0 or better GPA, may be considered. Average GPAs for students admitted to the SU PA Program have been over 3.5 for the past several years. The mean Grade Point Averages (GPAs) for students admitted in 2020 were: overall cumulative: 3.58, overall science: 3.53, and SUPA prerequisite: 3.71.
2) I have retaken a class; do Shenandoah and CASPA look at the new grade or the average of both? CASPA does not recognize individual school’s forgiveness, academic renewal, or grade replacement policies in regards to repeated courses. All grades which you earned for repeated courses will factor into your CASPA GPA. (See the CASPA web site for more details on GPA calculation.) Shenandoah does not recalculate GPA other than for a) additional coursework taken after application is submitted to CASPA, or b) independent evaluations of foreign transcripts.
1) Where should I obtain references?
It is recommended that candidates seek references from individuals who are well acquainted with them academically, personally and/or professionally. It is desirable that candidates seek a variety of sources for references. In other words, it is not a good idea to have all of your references come from college professors. The reference source should be acquainted with the candidate for a significant period of time (e.g. not just one course in the case of a college professor). Candidates should not obtain references from family members or others with whom they share a personal vs. professional relationship.
1) Do you require health care experience and, if so, what type and how much?
Although we do not require HCE or PA shadowing as an entrance requirement, it is recommended as points are awarded in the selection process based upon the type and length of experience(s). Type of experience is factored by length of experience such that a nurse’s aide or patient care technician with several years of experience could accumulate more points than a registered nurse or paramedic with a lesser amount of experience. Generally speaking, direct patient care experience is rated higher than indirect HCE. It is suggested that candidates contact local hospitals and other health care agencies to obtain information on how to gain experience as a volunteer or in an entry-level position. Often, even entry-level positions require some additional training. The SUPA Program is unable to provide placement assistance to help candidates gain pre-program experience or PA shadowing contacts.
2) May I add additional hours of health care experience to my application after it’s been submitted? Once your application has been received by us, there is no guarantee that it will be considered in time for your application review. Candidates may update their application to submit official transcripts showing a conferred bachelor’s degree or additional completed prerequisite course grade(s).
1) What is the facility like at the Northern Virginia Campus?
The Scholar Plaza Loudoun (SPL) satellite site is located near the campus of Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, VA. SPL is a newly renovated facility with classroom space containing state of the art technology, along with a large and fully equipped physical exam lab, and a state-of-the-art cadaver lab. It also includes a cafeteria, student study lounge areas, and a small fitness gym. The PA program offers Information Sessions at both locations.
Note: Applicants apply to Shenandoah University and, if offered an interview, will have the opportunity to note campus preference. However, the SUPA program cannot guarantee that all students will be placed at their campus preference site.
2) If I attend the program at the Scholar Plaza, Loudoun (SPL) site, will I have access to the same faculty and other resources as the students at the Winchester campus? While core faculty will be based at one of the two sites, they are accessible to all students at both locations. All students are assigned a faculty advisor from the core faculty at their assigned site. Faculty maintain an open-door policy for students when they are in their office, or students can make an appointment. Student-faculty meetings can also take place face-to-face or by utilizing video-teleconferencing applications on their computers.
Most resources required for academic work are available on-line for all student which includes access to the learning management system, texts, journals and library services. Wellness, learning, and writing services are also offered at both campuses.
3) May I take classes at both the Winchester and at Scholar Plaza or switch campuses during the program?
No. Courses must be attended at your assigned campus from the start and through the duration of the didactic program. Students are normally not permitted to switch campuses.
4) Is the curriculum the same at both sites? Yes. SUPA’s curriculum includes independent study, lecture, discussions, small-group work, case-based exercises, and practical application at both sites. The curriculum is delivered synchronously between the two sites utilizing distance learning technology for lecture-based learning. The lecture can originate from either site. Practical application courses such as physical exam, anatomy lab, and clinical integration case exercises are held in an in-person format with a low student to faculty ratio comparable at both sites. On occasion, students may be required to travel to either one of the sites or to another location for special events or training.
If I am:
1) Admitted to the SUPA Program, may I defer my admission to the following year?
No. The PA Program is normally unable to defer admissions. Candidates who have not yet matriculated are not eligible for a leave of absence.
2) Alternate/Wait List and not admitted, do I need to reapply the following year?
Yes, candidates on the alternate list who are not offered a seat for the current admissions cycle must reapply through CASPA in order to be considered for subsequent admission decisions.
3) Denied, can I reapply and how can I improve my application?
The SUPA Program encourages reapplication as it is an indication of motivation and perseverance. The successful candidate typically exceeds minimal entrance requirements in multiple areas. In addition, his/her interview demonstrates a high level of professionalism, in-depth knowledge regarding the SUPA Program and the PA profession as well as excellent communication skills. Candidates may request a general review of their application by email thru the email@example.com email. The program publishes a “Characteristics of Admitted Students” profile on its recently admitted class on its web site to view as a benchmark for improving one’s application.
I have a foreign medical degree; do I still need to complete the:
Prerequisites, Graduate Record Exam (GRE), or TOEFL exam?
Yes. Candidates with transcripts from another country must submit them to the World Education Services (WES) for course-to-course translation and evaluation. If the evaluation shows a prerequisite as completed, it will generally be accepted by the program if it meets the time, credit hour and grade requirements. If a candidate’s medical school curriculum is evaluated at the five year first professional degree or bachelor’s level, the GRE must be taken. In addition, it is advisable to contact Shenandoah University’s International Admissions Office if you have questions regarding English proficiency and visa requirements. The phone number is 540-665-4581.
Yes. There is no test which an international medical graduate (IMG) can take to obtain a PA license, or become nationally certified as a PA. All IMGs accepted into the program are not given priority consideration and must complete the entire program. Courses previously taken in medical school generally cannot be substituted for courses taken in the SUPA program.